I do not claim to be an expert nor do I guarantee the accuracy of the information. Every year there seem to be major changes in catfishing patterns.
below are a few basic techniques that have been proven to catch catfish.
Let's start with what kind of tackle to use.
Every pro, just as every fisherman, has different combinations of tackle that they choose.
advice I can give is
There is a vast variety of fishing tackle used for catfishing, from light spin-cast rigs to high quality salmon mooching and steelhead outfits. Just about any rod and reel will work for pan-sized catfish up to 2 pounds or so (under or about 18 inches) as long as a good quality line of at least 8 pound test is used.
A good choice
would be braided lines like SpiderWire, because of their sensitivity.
The lighter tackle allows more of the battle between man and fish
that has so exemplified the sport.
When fishing for the larger channel catfish and even white cats, sturdier tackle is in order especially when fishing in heavy cover. A ten pound plus catfish can give you a devil of a time around any kind of structure. Most catmen use medium heavy spinning outfits with at least 17 pound test quality monofilament line when fishing around trees, rocks or pilings. Rod lengths vary from 7 to 10 feet in length. The longer the rod, the better the casting distance and control while fighting the fish. A high quality spinning reel with a good drag system is a must to handle the long sizzling runs of an angry channel cat.
When drift fishing in open water almost any kind of tackle will do the job. The majority of anglers use light steelhead or medium salt water gear. Many anglers prefer conventional reels over spinning for this purpose.
A good choice is a 7 foot light action spinning outfit with 8 or 10 pound super braid line such as Berkely Fireline.
Since your normally fishing in totally open water when drift fishing, your best choice is simply whatever outfit you will have the most fun with.
spring and summer months quite a few anglers fish off the bank and
off docks especially at night. A lot of them prefer surf-casting
outfits as long as 12 feet or more. The reason behind this is more
casting distance. A good system is to cast as far as possible and
move the bait a few feet every five minutes or so. This system covers
a lot more water and the occasional movement stirs up the bottom and
hopefully wakes up a catfish.
On the topic of tackle, it is a good time to stress one of the most underrated links in the chain to catching a fish.
important than new space age fiber lines and $200 fishing poles are
the sharp hooks that actually catch the fish. Too many fishermen
overlook the benefits and necessities of an extremely sharp hook.
Catfish are very strong and can easily throw a hook that is not
implanted deeply into their mouths. With a dull hook, there is no
guarantee that the hook will penetrate deeply enough to ensure that
it will remain there.
2/0 eagle claw bait holder hooks are hard to beat catching catfish on rod & reel. They seldom miss a good strike from a catfish and if you keep them sharp they'll almost set themselves.
Why such a
hook up with humungous amounts of bait or very large cut bait will
catch you more turtles or unwanted strikes by gar or some other
non-target fish. In certain areas it's best to use large bait but in
some areas it's useless and it affects casting.
One inch long
by 1/4 inch wide strips of shad or some other cut bait if they
weren't biting on shad. Grasshoppers are most of the time the best
bait you can use.
Two basic rules.
Use bait that is natural to the fish. Using store bought bait will just lead you to disappointment, that stuff is just a waste of your hard earned money and you won't catch any fish but maybe one or two the whole day unless you use it in a farm pond where the fish are being fed regularly by the landowner.
It's always best to fish structure upstream from brush piles/log jams or rock ledges. Fishing in wide open areas is okay just as long as the water is rising from a recent rain.
catfish the best hooks are probably 6/0 or 7/0 straight trotline
hooks using whole live perch hooked like you'd fish with minnows.
Where To Find Catfish
This is meant to serve only as a general guide for finding fish; patterns will vary slightly by water bodies and seasons, as well as water temperatures and time of the day.
Rivers and Creeks
Look for holes and changes in the bottom depth where swift water stops or starts and forms pools; look for the deepest parts of these pools. Rocks, trees, rip rap, brush piles and other structure around these holes often hold kitties. Look for breaks in currents where baitfish hold up, catfish lurk in these areas and wait for an easy prey to ambush. Undercuts in banks where creeks and rivers turn and bend are common catfish hideouts.
In swift waters channel cats will position themselves in spots to feed and rest - generally near structure that breaks the current. Focus your fishing efforts around such structures. Look for feeder creeks and changes in bottom depths that catfish may follow. Catfish love to follow paths on the bottom of the water and will often run smaller creek channels on the bottom to feed. Any place where two waters feed together is often prime spots.
For channel cats, fish shallow water during the spring and as the days heat up in the summer remember that they will often move to deeper water during the heat of the day, and return shallow at night. They typically will still hold to structure and changes in bottom depth.
When fishing lakes; look for shallow waters that have access to deeper waters. Shallow waters with structures such as trees, brush piles and rocks and changes in bottom depth hold fish. Old creek channels, river channels, stock ponds, roads or train tracks are common paths that fish will follow to feed.
Submerged structure such as buildings and foundations harbor catfish also. They often cling to this underwater structure.
In spring fish will be feeding in this shallow water. As the weather warms up and we have very hot days move deeper during the day if you have no shallow water success, they will return shallow as the day cools.
Sloughs, creeks and channels feeding from the lakes that have good lots of submerged trees and structure are catfish havens. Fish along this structure especially along the edges where bottom depth changes.
Cormorant roosts. You will usually find these roosts in flooded trees
over water. Large groups of these birds roost after dark. If you are
fishing during the day and the birds are gone, just look for trees
over the water that are covered in white bird droppings. When you
locate the roosts, be gentle in sliding your boat into position and
slide in under the roosts. Be quiet because the kitties are likely
feeding under these roosts and are easily spooked.
Tailraces of dams are excellent catfishing locations, especially when the dams are releasing water. This is where many of the people who fish monster flatheads fish. Fishing below dams you can use a large slip rig or 3 way rig with a heavy sinker and cast in between the gates where the water is not as swift or you can use a bobber style rig and let your bait drift.
These areas produce nice catches of all different kinds of fish when they are letting out water because the fish feed on the dead/shocked baitfish after it comes through the dam.
Drift fishing is good way to catfish if you have a boat. Every so often the fish are finicky, chumming is not successful and you just cannot seem to get on the fish. If you have a boat, drifting can work really well.
When drifting, you keep your bait of choice off the bottom. Using a bottom bouncer rig is the best option. You simply drift across the water in areas where you suspect would hold catfish which lets you bait cover large areas without you having to pickup and move spaces.
Many people freeze concoctions of ground up shad or shrimp in water and tie a rope through them which they suspend in the water for dirfting, this can help attract or "chum" for fish.
Drift fishing works very well in deep waters especially around dams or rocky areas. You have a tendency to get hung up a lot while drifting but using a bottom bouncer rig will help with this. The other option is to use a slip bobber rig and keep your bait 12-18 inches off the bottom.
of whether you are fishing a river, lake or pond pay close attention
to where you are fishing. Watch your surroundings and pay attention
to depth, structure and everything involved when you are successful.
Remember these conditions for future trips; because these are the
places that will typically hold the fish. Don't rely too much on
electronics and learn to spot the catfish hideouts, and it will pay
off in the end.
Catfishing By Seasons
As the days get longer and the water starts to warm, the catfish start to feed. This is a slow process, a few catfish start showing up around docks in late March.
Sometime between the middle and the end of April they start to move shallow in greater numbers to feed on crawdads and other forage. This is when bobber fishing with crawdad tails and or shrimp start producing.
The month of May shows a slow but steady improvement. Although a lot of fish are feeding shallow by now, there are still a lot of fish taken drift fishing with live minnows in 20 feet or more of water.
By early June, the catfish are starting to think about reproducing and therefore arrive in shallow water in great numbers.
By early to mid June, depending on water temperature, the majority of the catfish population is in the spawning mode. Their favorite spawning areas are shallow (3 to 8 feet) rocky areas, areas with lots of sunken tires and brushy areas. They continue to feed on crawdads and various other forage throughout their spawning cycle. Bobber fishing with crawdads, shrimp, or in some cases nightcrawlers continues to be the best fishing method.
As the fish complete their spawning, the majority remain relatively shallow until late August. During July and early August there are a lot of fish taken in 8 to 12 feet of water by still fishing with shrimp or cut baits such as mackerel or shad. There are still a lot taken by bobber fishing in shallow water then also.
Late August to early September starts the migration back to deeper water. By the middle of September the drift fishing in 20 to 35 feet of water is in full swing. The top baits used are shrimp, mackerel and shad in that order.
Many anglers catch more nice channel catfish from early September to roughly the middle of November than during the rest of the year combined.
The fish school up in 20 to 35 feet of water under schools of bait fish (shad and silversides), waiting for injured or dying bait fish to fall to the bottom. This pattern remains steady until the heavy rains hit or the water temperature stays below 55 degrees for any length of time usually mid or late November.
As I mention in the summer section, the top method is drift fishing with shrimp, mackerel and or shad.
to the middle of March, the toughest season for catfishing. Most of
the fish are in deep water and are very inactive. When there is
enough rain to start filling lakes with muddy run-off water, a few
cats will feed wherever the muddy water flows into the lake. The best
method for this scenario is to toss a line baited with a gob of
garden worms into the moving water and let it drift. Occasional
catfish are taken drift fishing in deep water or still fishing from
shore or dock but they are few and far between.
claim a Catfish's favorite
bait would be a toss up between chicken livers or raw medium sized
grocery store shrimp.
very simple to set up
Shrimp or prawns as they are called in the fish markets are a perfect substitute for crawdads. Depending on the size of the shrimp and the desired size of the bait you can use them whole or cut them in half. You can use them with the shell on but most anglers remove the shell. Unlike the crawdads you can use shrimp in heavy current or for long vigorous casting or even drift fishing without fear of losing your bait. They can be purchased in most seafood sections of supermarkets either frozen or fresh.
They work best from spring to late fall just as the crawdads do.
liver is a little bit more complex to rig up
Alot of anglers
have good luck with them. Several channel catfish weighing 20 pounds
and more have fallen for chicken livers.
One technique requires pantyhose. Rip of a piece of chicken liver about the diameter of a quarter. Wrap it in a piece of pantyhose leaving a tag end, and then thread the tag end of the pantyhose through a treble hook.
technique involving chicken livers is to dry them in the sun. When
the liver dries completely, it will be more than hard enough to stay
on the hook.
Yet another method is to cover them with garlic salt and dry them in the sun for 3 or 4 hours they will toughen up quite a bit and the garlic salt seems to make the cats like them even better.
sent in from fellow Anglers:
Ron Brown from Asheville North Carolina
A detailed answer to the problem of keeping liver on the hook:
All you have to
do is use a wire leader or a snap swivel and a #4 treble hook . . .
You can even bring your liver in to check it and throw it back it out, it works that well. The only downside is after 2 or 3 bait ups you have to take a second to cut the accumulated thread off the hook with a knife.
It's easy, it takes no prep. work (throw a spool of thread in your tackle box) and it's environmentally friendly.
Another method of keeping liver baits on the hook:
The ultimate thing to use for wrapping liver baits on a hook is the wrapping inside of golfballs. It stretches and you can use a little or alot, personally I've caught many large catfish on 9/0 to 10/0 hooks with 3-4 chicken livers wrapped on. It's fantastic in waters with no current. Don't use any weight, big channels and blues can't resist it and you won't usually be bothered by smaller catfish. Big bait for big fish!
Tom Radovich from Union City CA
These two baiting methods of chicken livers and shrimp have definitely been the most successful and they are still the most common ones used today.
Other great choices of bait include
Crawdads - crawfish,
One of the
primary food sources for catfish. At times live crawdads are
excellent bait but more often the meat from the tail is the top producer.
They produce the best results from spring to late fall when they are readily available to the catfish.
You can purchase crawdads at bait and tackle shops or you can catch your own with a crawdad trap.
This category includes nightcrawlers, minicrawlers and garden worms.
They are highly
productive in winter and early spring.
It is best to use just enough weight to drift along the bottom in the current to provide a natural presentation.
Nightcrawlers and minicrawlers are available at all bait shops but garden worms must be dug up by the angler.
Live or Dead Minnows
Live minnows, especially large or extra large are good bait all year round. The only drawback (or maybe not) is that you will catch as many bass, or maybe more, as catfish. Most serious catmen kill their minnows just before they put them on the hook for this reason. They can be used under a bobber in shallow water in spring and summer as well as drift fishing in semi deep to deep water all year long.
Minnows are available at some baitshops.
The big yellow ones are what were talking about. These are a seasonal bait but they're great. It is well known that blues and channel feed off vegetation, this is why grasshoppers are a favorite of catfish sometimes. Iit's not because they feed on them all the time, it's because of what the grasshoppers eat. Catfish are omnivores meaning they can't live off meat alone and eat plant and animal/fish. Because of this, there are a lot of places they can't feed as much off vegetation and while the grasshoppers fill up on plant stuff and become little bait packets.
I truly believe that a catfish (especially a channel cat) will eat almost anything that is animal, vegetable or mineral.
Here is a
partial list of stuff that many anglers
have caught them on;
Another good catfish bait that deserves a mention here is cheese, just about any kind of cheese will catch catfish but orange cheeses like cheddar or american work particularly well. As I already mentioned, many have caught a lot of cats with plain bread dough so I'm sure a prepared doughbait will do well. If you use your imagination I'm sure you can come up with a few new ones!
Chumming is a
very simple method that will reap major benefits. A fisherman who
chums his or her area before fishing will always catch more catfish
than the person who doesn't. Chumming simply consists of throwing
balls of a mixture of specific recipe into the area that is to be fished.
The trick to this method is finding the right recipe for the mixture. Clearly it should contain the same bait that it is to be used on the hook.
Such recipes are not easily revealed and the method I suggest to find your personnel mixture is trial and error. Every lake is different, so the contents of mixtures will vary. Once the correct mixture is found, the fish frier will be cooking constantly. As a starting point, something that smells a great deal is what people normally use to catch catfish. Usually putting this reeking substance into a pasty mixture of flour and water is a good starting point.
The most effective baits are those that nature produced.
This list will remain the same unless some bait company pays me big money to lie to you and endorse their fancy store bought bait like "Goober's Catfish Catchin Crap"
temperature and other things play a big part in how you catch catfish also,
TIGHTLINING is a method that allows the fisherman to
accurately control the lake floor to bait distance. The rig for this
method is as follows:
NOTE: It is very important to keep the line taught since many strikes, especially from big'uns are subtle.
The SLIPWEIGHT method allows the bait to rest on the lake
floor. This method is recommended when fishing at night in shallow waters.
The MULTIBAIT style is another great method for catching
great amounts of catfish. This method is notorious for catching more
than one catfish at a time. Preparing this rig is very simple. Splice
a three way swivel onto your line and tie a leader of about 18"
to 24" on each of the other swivels. Then tie on the required
hook. I usually rely on the weight of the bait to sink the rig. And
Removing a Catfish from the Hook
There are a few
ways to remove a catfish.
way to remove a hook without harming the fish is to carefully slide
your hand up its belly from the tail placing the fingers behind one
side fin and the thumb behind the other.
having any hints, suggestions, techniques or anything that you would
like to share
have me put onto this web page,
If you havie
any hints, suggestions, techniques or anything that you would like to share
have me put onto this web page,
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